52 Parties: The Night Institute Turns One | Soundspace

52 Parties: The Night Institute Turns One

the night institue, jordan, timmy stewart

The Night Institute’s first year is coming to an end. A year on and their parties continue to make waves locally and beyond. Headed up by Timmy Stewart and Jordan, they have propelled their club night into the local underground dance music scene, establishing a name as a go to for good disco, house and techno music. The pair have taken a simple, no frills approach to the resident club night. Their focus is on making good solid musical selections with a community approach. They also have a strict selection policy when it comes to booking guests.

In the age of the guest DJ it seems silly to sell yourself on the idea that you can manage to run a successful club night without padding your lineup with some name from a Beatport chart. Who would want to go? And why should they pay in?

Resident nights are increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Big name DJs, trundling along a well trodden circuit rock up at one European city to the next while promoters sit on the sidelines with gritted teeth waiting for the lights to come on, begging to break even thanks to over-inflated fees and cut-throat agents.

Belfast had fallen into this trap for years. Small venues were being booked out to host superstar DJs, copying a model which is unsustainable in a city of this size. Bringing foreign DJs to Belfast isn’t a bad thing but it certainly shouldn’t be a priority given the wealth of talent we produce ourselves. As Jordan explained, “ [You] Don’t book guests for the sake of their name. Book a guest who’s music is played regularly in the club, tried and tested records, and someone that isn’t going to come and do a 6 hour European deep-a-thon in a Belfast club with two hours before closing.”

Belfast clubbing is unique and as such Belfast’s resident DJs have a unique style. It’s comparable to that of Glasgow as was evident when Denis Sulta sent Lower Garfield Street into raptures when he played ‘The Bomb’ by The Bucketheads during one of the now famous block parties.

Belfast has always had a “straight in, no kissing” approach, but The Night Institute they have softened that concept. As Timmy explains they prefer to run with “low level and low bpm at the start” with the “volume and tempo increasing around the punters as they fill the room.” An approach which he says harks back to his days spent going to the infamous Sugar Sweet parties at the now legendary Art College.

It’s been evident throughout that the emphasis is placed heavily on good music and good selections while ‘banging it out’ might not be preferable when a club hit is in order.

It seems impossible to run a successful club night without establishing rapport with the punters and developing that relationship over weeks, months and eventually years. There is definitely a community developing around an idea which in itself is entirely simplistic, yet also wonderful.

Every time you walk into a club there should be a sense of anticipation. In my own personal experience, I’ve sat listening at the door, taking punters money and texting frantically to find out what the last tune was. There’s always something new, the excitement is always there and you find yourself amazed even on slow nights .

There have been many good moments at The Night Institute in the past year. From Timmy paying his own tribute to musical legend Prince in an all night set comprised of Prince’s best hits and edits, to DJ Haus crowd surfing at the end of his set; Mike Dunn rapping his “Phreaky Motherfucka” through his headphones (Green Velvet style)  to a group of excitable girls in the front row to Kornel Kovacs schooling the club with an unbelievably eclectic set after which Timmy remarked he felt like sticking L plates on his record bag.

These moments, alongside the many other weeks of solid parties, carefully crafted to a point where a lights up moment becomes a lasting memory with tracks from the likes of The Smiths, The Strokes and anything else that makes the faithful few join together in an orgasmic appreciation of the music chosen by their diligent selectors.

The Night Institute is all about consistent parties with a local flavour all tailored to the wants and desires of the people who come to dance. With that we’ve seen debuts from the likes of Brién, Embezzlement Society, Bine, Andrew Johnston and even myself.

The warmth is astounding and it seems that clubbing may have turned a corner in Belfast by embracing something that is homegrown while still aspiring to bring the biggest and best to come join the party. The sense of community is growing all the time. The spirit is one of co-operation, not competition and it serves us well in such a small city.

The Night Institute has only enjoyed a year and what a year it’s been. Here’s to many more parties, many more years and better things to come.